Is there anything that this Cleveland Indians team cannot do?
Finding themselves down in the ninth inning for the first time in a 22-game span, the Indians rallied down to their final out to tie the game against Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera and won the game on a walk-off single the next inning down the right field line by Jay Bruce as the Tribe clinched a trip to the postseason for the second straight year in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Royals on Thursday night.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona tried to loosen up the Indians clubhouse a little bit heading into a key weekend series in Kansas City with the Royals. The results appeared evident on the field, as the Indians routed the Royals by a 10-1 final, but had a scare in the sixth inning when starting pitcher Corey Kluber had to exit the ball game early with an injury.
In a game that had plenty of positives to draw upon, Indians’ players, brass, and fans were all collectively holding their breath in the sixth when Kluber broke from the mound and appeared hobbled as he attempted to cover first base on an infield single. He was able to talk his way back onto the mound in what was then a 6-1 contest and pitched to another batter, but after the base hit, Francona and the team trainer were back out to the mound to escort Kluber from the game.
It was announced late in the game that Kluber left with a right ankle sprain.
Tuesday night has forced me to break character a little bit.
Had it not been for 104 recaps on this website already this season, I might have opted to skip the events that transpired at Fenway Park on Tuesday so as to not relive them again. But, out of respect for the process, the show, as they say, must go on. To the handful of people who elect to subject themselves to what follows, either for a first time or for a painful repeated dose, this is my apology. You have been warned. Turn back now.
Tuesday night was the kind of ball game that few who watched will forget for quite some time and one has to wonder about the long-term repercussions on those who played the game itself. It had a little bit of everything, with the exception of good pitching, and was an entertaining game from start to finish for both sides, albeit for different reasons along the way. The ball flew all around Fenway Park. There was a highlight reel catch in center field by Austin Jackson that will be played throughout the rest of the 2017 regular season, if not into the foreseeable future. There were several lead changes, two very significant wild pitches late by big-time closers, and a pair of game-changing home runs in the ninth.
This recap should be about how the Indians tagged Chris Sale for seven runs, including five in the first two innings. It should be about Francisco Lindor becoming just the second player to take Craig Kimbrel deep on an 0-2 count in his lengthy career and that the shot over the Monster tied the game in the top of the ninth. It should be about how the Indians loaded the bases with two outs in the frame and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from the All-Star closer.
A mark of a good team is being able to find new ways to win. The Cleveland Indians did that on Saturday night as, after giving up an early four-run lead, Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth to score Carlos Santana with the go-ahead run in a 5-4 Tribe win.
The Indians (57-45) pushed their winning streak to nine straight games with the highly unusual ending to a Corey Kluber start from the southside of Chicago. Coupled with a late loss by Kansas City against the Boston Red Sox, the Indians’ lead over the Royals in the American League Central has grown to three games.
Eduardo Nunez singled through the pulled in Indians infield in the bottom of the tenth inning against Cleveland closer Cody Allen to give the San Francisco Giants a 2-1 walk-off win in extra innings from AT&T Park on Tuesday night.
The Indians’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position was once again an issue as they wasted a quality start from Mike Clevinger, who was stellar on the mound for the Tribe. The Indians blew an early one-run lead with a costly error in the fifth and were unable to mount any support for the pitching staff in the late innings as Giants starter Ty Blach and the San Francisco bullpen kept the Cleveland bats contained for much of the night.
The second half has not started the way that the Cleveland Indians would have scripted.
One night after being limited to four hits in a 5-0 shutout by the Oakland Athletics, Corey Kluber allowed a game-tying solo blast in the eighth inning and Bryan Shaw gave up the game-winning two-run shot to Khris Davis in the bottom of the ninth as the A’s celebrated their seventh walk-off win in a 5-3 victory on Saturday night.
The Indians (47-42) have now opened the second half by losing games started by the top two pitchers in their rotation.
The city of Cleveland was well represented in Miami on Tuesday night. The Tribe contingent was active throughout the 88th annual All-Star Game in a contest decided on a tenth inning solo home run by Seattle’s Robinson Cano in a 2-1 American League victory over the host National League squad from Marlins Park.
Cano, an injury replacement for New York’s Starlin Castro, delivered the deciding run off of the lone Chicago Cub representative in the game, closer Wade Davis. Cano took home the Most Valuable Player award for his game-winner and the AL has won five consecutive games. The win evened up the all-time series between the two circuits at 43-43-2, while both teams have scored a total of 361 runs each.
Mike Clevinger and the Cleveland bullpen blanked the Detroit Tigers on four hits as the Indians completed their ninth shutout of the season with a 4-0 win on Saturday.
Fans at Progressive Field were treated to an old fashion pitchers’ duel for much of the game as Clevinger and Justin Verlander went toe-to-toe in a rematch of last Sunday’s game at Comerica Park. Verlander looked much more like his former Cy Young self than the pitcher that the Indians had seen in two of his first three outings against them this season, but Clevinger matched him pitch for pitch in another solid start against the Tigers by the young right-hander.
Both pitchers dealt with obstacles on the base paths, but both teams were able to work around potential big innings.
Jose Ramirez has spent this season reminding fans of Major League Baseball that his breakout 2016 campaign was no fluke. For those efforts, and the strong finish by the voters on Thursday, he was named on Sunday night the starting third baseman for the American League All-Star team.
It has been a meteoric rise for Ramirez, once labeled as a utility man and a speed guy who inconsistently performed at the plate and had no set position to assume on the Cleveland roster. Ramirez can now add “All-Star” to his list of monikers, and this one has been well deserved.
For five innings, Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann resembled the pitcher that he was for years with the Washington Nationals. In the sixth inning, it all crumbled apart as Cleveland put up four runs to take the lead and Carlos Carrasco, Cody Allen, and Andrew Miller held that edge to the finish as the Indians took Saturday’s second game in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.
The Indians had little to show through the first half of the nightcap with the Tigers, as the offense had been relatively quiet all day long, outside of a big inning in their 7-4 loss earlier in the day. Zimmermann had moved easily through the first five innings, facing two over the minimum while allowing just three base runners total. He walked Lonnie Chisenhall in the second, allowed a one-out single to Michael Brantley in the fourth, and plunked Carlos Santana in the fifth in retaliation for a hit batter by Carrasco the previous half inning, before erasing him on a double play ball.
With manager Terry Francona back in the dugout after missing Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons due to health issues, the Indians supported their starter with some rare runs at home.
Bauer set the Rangers down in order to start the night before his teammates gave him a lead to work with against tough right-hander Yu Darvish. Jason Kipnis reached on an error, coming in for a rest at second base. Francisco Lindor drove him home with a single to right to put Cleveland on top, 1-0. The Indians would eventually get runners on second and third with one out in the frame after a fielder’s choice by Brantley and a double by Edwin Encarnacion, but Brantley was thrown out at home on a ball off of the bat of Jose Ramirez before Lonnie Chisenhall struck out swinging.